PDO’s Attorney Mentor Program: Benefits and Top 5 Ways to be a Good Mentee!

Last week, over 40 of you signed up for PDO’s Attorney Mentor Program!  This program is different from ASP or other mentor programs where students are matched with upper-level student mentors.  Through it, students from any class may be matched with a local attorney who has expressed an interest in mentoring.  The program does not involve a huge time investment on either side of the relationship.  There will be two evening socials and a few individually-planned mentoring events throughout the school year.  The attorneys who will serve as mentors have been encouraged to attend the socials and help to arrange one or two lunches or job shadowing activities individually with their mentees during the school year. 

Some of the students and mentors who participated last year reported that they had difficulty scheduling times that worked for both parties to meet.  This can be problematic, but be patient and persistent when arranging to meet with your mentor.  There are some really fantastic attorneys who have volunteered to be mentors, and they want to work with you!

Top 5 Ways to be a good Mentee:

1.       Understand.  As you begin the mentoring process, you should understand the purposes and limits of the program.  The purposes include: introducing you to a practicing attorney in the community, giving you a real-world sense of at least one attorney’s practice, and expanding your network of persons you can turn to with questions about law school and the practice of law.  Your attorney mentor has been told that they are expected to meet with you 1-2 times during the academic year (lunch, job shadowing, or other activity) and to be available for an occasional email or phone call.  Your attorney is NOT expected to check in with you regularly or set you up with employment. 

2.       Communicate.  Be proactive- don’t wait for your mentor to contact you.  Once mentor pairs are assigned, it is the responsibility of the student to get the ball rolling by emailing or calling their mentor and arrange to meet.  If your mentor suggests a meeting, be prompt in responding to the invitation.  Attorneys are busy!  If you have trouble connecting, be persistent. The attorneys really do want to help, but sometimes can get bogged down in a busy case.

3.       Learn. Be open to what your attorney has to offer, even if it is not what you might have expected.  The application questionnaires will be used to help pair you with a mentor according to your interests.  Talk to your mentor about topics including:  why they’ve chosen their profession/that employer, their career path, or how they set priorities.  Ask for helpful practice tips on time management, developing client relationships, and strategies for advancing in their organization.  

4.       Be Professional.  Keep confidential or sensitive information to yourself.  If you have concerns, talk to PDO.  Follow up promptly with any email or phone call from your mentor, and include a phone number in any email to your mentor.    

5.       Follow Up.  After the year ends, keep in touch with your mentor.   You mentor will serve as a valuable contact in your ever-growing professional network.  Remember that the secret to networking is not just who you know, but who those people know!